“Ignition Part Three: Crash and Burn”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Alberto Dose
It’s a pity when people turn their backs on de-masked superheroes. It’s a pity when people believe heroism to stem from costumes rather than from the character beneath. It’s a pity because what makes a hero is the conscious choice to sacrifice personal identity. And when that selfless sacrifice is forgotten, the root of a character’s heroism is also forgotten. Thus, Geoff Johns and Alberto Dose remind readers that The Flash is really a hero named Wally West who will decisively sacrifice his simple life as a mechanic and devoted husband for the dangerous and unpredictable life of a masked superhero. In “Ignition Part Three: Crash and Burn,” the world is again brilliant as The Flash returns to Keystone City, although the hero in Wally West had never really been absent.
Much of this story-arc has been character-focused, and the action has been padded for a build-up effect. Consequently, the pacing has been unfortunately sluggish. But a turning-point has finally been reached. The action slowly returns. Here, West embraces his superhero identity, a rogue profiler arrives, a villain is wrongly accused as an older villain is updated, and The Flash promptly meets defeat. Smoothly blended with this building activity are light comedic moments. Particularly amusing is West’s discomfort when resuming his costumed role—he finds the suit too stiff, his radio earpiece too loud, and his voice “entirely uncool” for the superhero image he’s hoping to present.
Flawless is Johns’ portrayal of West—a character who’s not too smart and not too ambitious, but so optimistic that he believes himself capable of saving the world. For West, though jeopardizing his marriage and peace, becoming The Flash is the only option. “I don’t know what’s happened to me. I don’t know who I really am right now—but I do know I can help. And if I can help—I should.” The character’s naïve goodness imbues this issue, making it a charismatic and hopeful story.
In contrast to West’s character, Dose’s art continues to be bleak. The atmosphere is gloomy, and people are ugly. Yet when the costume returns, so does Keystone City’s spark. In a two-page spread, West finally begins to run in costume and, in the process, cuts a blazing gold path through the dull world. This scene is excessively melodramatic—but the return of active heroism is worthy of highlight.
So, perhaps costumes are the symbol of heroic deeds; and perhaps costumes transform a drab world into a world of dazzling promise. The rising suspense and action of this issue supports such an argument. But, more crucial is the fact that the person who dons the costume is a hero—something that is concretely emphasized by the “Ignition” creative team; The Flash costume sparkles because Wally West is wearing it.
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